Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

It's National Dog Day, Show Your Pet Some Healthy Love!

It’s National Dog Day!  There has been an outpouring of pet love on social media today.  Clearly people love their four legged friends.  Not only are dogs (and cats) wonderful companions, but owning a pet provides more than just sloppy kisses and mounds of fur.  It’s time to bring that relationship full circle and get active with your pet!  Here are just a few benefits of exercise in animals:Family_walk_ThinkstockPhotos-466988813

  • Helps reduce behavior problems such as chewing and excessive barking
  • Improves agility and keeps them limber
  • Reduces digestive problems
  • Improves sleep and decreases restlessness
  • Weight Management

Now that you see your pet’s health benefits from exercise just as your own.  Here are my top 5 things for you to consider and remember when you commit to get fit with your dog!

  1. Exercise Partner – Just like humans, dogs can also become obese.  Not only does walking your pet help to wear them out and burn off some energy, but it will help them maintain their weight as well as your own.  It might even end up that your dog pushes you more than you know.  Fido might keep you more accountable than your coworker does at your corporate fitness center.
  2. Establish a Smart Routine – Whatever type of activity you and your pet enjoy, fit it in at some point throughout the day. Start with short burst of exercise and work your way up.  Just as you should check with a physician prior to starting a workout regimen, your dog should have a check up to.  It’s important for you to know the needs of your dog. 
  3. Swimming – You may have felt a great workout from swimming, less impact on your joints and still gets your heart pumping.  The same goes for dogs.  Consider taking your dog for a swim, whether it’s to fetch a ball or just take a dip.  Larger dogs who may feel the impact of their weight will feel the same relief as you when they get in the water.
  4. Dog Park – Visit your local dog park and make some friends, both you and your pet.  Social wellness is just as important as your physical well-being.  We all know dogs need social interaction for behavior reasons, what about you?
  5. Hydrate – Water is just as important in animals as it is for you.  Make sure your pet is hydrated when increasing activity levels or when it’s hot outside.  What for signs of dehydration such as excessive panting, weakness, and confusion. 

Now get out and get moving after dinner and show your four legged pal some healthy love! 

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Topics: employee health benefits exercise at home healthy living

Active Aging: Make no bones about it

walking_seniorsHow healthy are your bones? This may not be a question you can answer quickly. Many seniors already have weak bones and don’t know it, but the good news is you’re never too old to take steps towards keeping your bones strong. Strong bones support us and allow us to move well. They protect our heart, lungs, and brain from injury. Our bones are also a storehouse for vital minerals that we need to live.

When you think of bones, you might imagine a hard, brittle skeleton. In reality, your bones are living organs. They are alive with cells and flowing body fluids. Bones are constantly renewed and grow stronger with a good diet and adequate physical activity. The amount of calcium that makes up your bones is the measure of how strong they are. Your muscles and other systems in your body must also have calcium to work. Therefore if it is in short supply from what you get in the foods you eat, your body will simply take the calcium from the storage in your bones.

Falls are a common thing you hear about when discussing senior bone health. It is a major reason for trips to the emergency room and for hospital stays among older adults. You can help prevent fractures by maintaining the strength of your bones. If you fall, having healthy bones can prevent hip or other fractures that may lead to a potential severe disability. If bones are fragile, even a minor fall can be detrimental.  

Some things that weaken bones are out of your control. For example, if your family member has a bone problem, you could also be at risk. Also, some medical conditions can make you prone to bone disease. But there are also several things you can do to maintain your bone health as you age. 

Each day, calcium is deposited and withdrawn from your bones. If you don’t get enough calcium, you could be withdrawing more than you’re depositing. Be sure to get an adequate amount, this can be done by eating calcium-rich foods and taking supplements. It can be found in dairy products such as low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. You can also get it from orange juice, nuts such as almonds, soybeans, fortified cereals, and dark green, leafy vegetables such as broccoli and collard greens.

Vitamin D is necessary to help your body absorb the calcium. As you get older, your bodies need for vitamin D also increases. It is made by your skin when you are in the sun but many older people don’t get enough vitamin D this way. Eating foods with vitamin D, such as salmon, mushrooms, and fortified cereals and milk will greatly benefit your body. You can have a blood test done to check for a vitamin D deficiency or abnormal calcium levels. Taking supplements can help as well, talk to your doctor about how much vitamin D you need.

Physical activity is another way to keep your bones strong. Try to get a total of at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, even if it’s broken up into 10 minutes three times a day. Participate in activities like walking, dancing, stair climbing, gardening, or strength training. When you jump, run, or lift a weight, it puts stress on your bones which sends a signal to your body that your bones need to be made stronger. New cells are then added which strengthens your bones.

Talk to your doctor about your bone health questions and concerns; together you can evaluate your risks. The doctor might recommend a bone density test. This is a safe and painless test that will assess your overall bone health and determine your risk for fractures. It is recommended that women over 65 and men over 70 should all have a bone density test.

By 2020 half of all Americans over 50 will have weak bones unless we make changes to our diet and lifestyle. As discussed, a diet that includes enough calcium and vitamin D and physical activity can help prevent bone loss and fractures. Take initiative today to keep your bones healthy and strong!

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Topics: active aging bone density senior living community healthy living

NIFS: Women, Take Charge of Your Health

happy womenIt’s about that time of year where the weather is getting warmer and the flowers are blooming. May is a wonderful introduction into the summer months and is also a time we celebrate women. Mother’s Day is not the only day to celebrate women, but there is a whole week dedicated to women’s health. For this year, National Women’s Health Week for the US is May 11 – 17. Women can celebrate the generations of women before them that have pioneered the way and take charge of their health to make it a priority. This week focuses on preventive measures to take to improve their health and avoid disease.

Within this week, there is a day designated that women encouraged to visit their health care provider while getting recommended check-ups, vaccinations, and screenings. The National Women’s Health Check-up Day is May 12, 2014. Maintaining annual screenings and check-ups is one important way women can take control of their health and create a healthy lifestyle. Other healthy habits include getting regular physical activity, adapting a healthy nutrition routine, avoiding smoking, and following other general safety rules.

Sometimes it can seem like a lot to take in regarding our health. It’s do this, don’t do that. Follow this guideline, avoid this. Even though our health can be challenging, it’s important to know what we can control and what we can’t. One part of taking charge of your health involves understanding your risk factors. Some risk factors are beyond your control which includes family history of disease, your sex, age, or having an existing health problem. Ones you can control are diet, fitness, use of tobacco and drugs, alcohol intake, and even wearing your seatbelt to name a few. In the US, there are about 35% of early deaths that could be avoided by quitting smoking, having healthy diet and increasing physical activity. Make yourself more aware of how you can prevent early death.

To celebrate women’s health week, make time for yourself to schedule your appointments to take care of you.  I encourage you to take time this week to try the following activities:

  • Schedule your annual appointments: physical/dental/eye exam
  • Sign up for a 5K walk/run
  • Try a new healthy recipe
  • Attend a group fitness class, try something new like Zumba© or yoga
  • Get outside and do some yard work
  • Read a book or do a puzzle for brain health
Topics: active aging exercise and wellness women's health healthy living